Quick Takes on ‘Kong: Skull Island’: It’s a Small Wonder We Feel Sympathy for Kong

  • The film may be jam-packed with stars, but it turns out the 104 feet tall CGI monster is the only relatable character.
  • Never before have I watched a movie and been that acutely aware of the intended function of each scene. I think this one is more on the director, however, rather than the screenwriters. If you take it on its own, the screenplay is formulaic, sure, but it’s the direction of the scenes that makes the human interactions in the movie feel so by-the-numbers.
  • Jing Tian has been given a lot of flak in Chinese press for her wooden deliveries and her token status in Hollywood films (she has a total of 11 lines in the movie, according to IMDB). To be fair, you can apply the same critique to the acting of the entire cast, with the exception of John C. Reiley, who’s able to take the material he’s given and really have some fun with it. Again, I think the problems stem more from the direction of the scene and the scope of the film. There’s far too many characters in the film, and the movie only spends short, truncated time with them, not nearly enough to really establish the characters in the audience’s mind. The movie would have been better served if it had cut down on the number of survivors by at least half and focus more on Tom Hiddleston and Brie Larson’s characters. Because let’s face it, they are the primary reasons we went to see the film.

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  • Had a lot of problems with the director Jordan Vogt-Roberts‘s usage of cinematic language in this movie: the transition between scenes was predominantly weak, and he tends to end scenes a beat earlier that what I would have preferred. I’m curious to see his earlier indie films as I’m sure he had to contend with a lot of forces (both in terms of the studio and the logistics of shooting a big-budgeted film) while working on Kong: Skull Island; it’ll be fairer to judge his capabilities by looking at movies where he assumedly had more creative freedom.
  • This is a smaller gripe, but I didn’t enjoy the portrayal of the indigenous population on the island. The depiction of them being a tribe of few words (no words, actually) that communicates mostly through inscrutable nods and half-bows felt both hokey and Orientalist.
  • MVPs of the movie: Special effects and set design.

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